Thursday, March 4, 2010

Be strong and courageous

“Women and children?” asked Joshua. “You’re joking?”

“I don’t joke about such serious matters,” Moses sternly replied.

“Have you gone mad?” asked Joshua.

“Do I look mad? Joshua, you must destroy them all or they'll forever be a thorn in your flesh.”

"My flesh?” asked Joshua.

Moses's seemed to choke up as handed over a scroll.

“What’s this?” asked Joshua.

“A map,” replied Moses, “where you must bury Joseph’s remains.”

“Wait, you’re going too fast. What do you mean?”

“Joshua, the second thing God told me was the hardest of all. I'll only see the promised land from Mount Nebo, then I must leave this world.”

“I’m sorry,” said Joshua, “this is not how I imagined things would work out”

“I’m not allowed to enter Canaan,” Moses continued. “I’ll die on Mount Nebo.”

Joshua could hardly believe his ears. This is Moses, the prophet of God, he thought. The man who stood up to the most powerful ruler on earth. Moses who parted the Red Sea and talks directly with God himself.

“Just like that?” replied Joshua, “after all you've done? To come this far and not finish? It doesn’t make sense.”

“Remember Kadesh?”

“That?” replied Joshua, “that was just a mistake. They were stubborn and never stopped complaining of thirst.”

“I struck the rock twice,” Moses replied.

“But they’re always stubborn,” Joshua shouted, “why do you think we’ve been wasting the last forty years?
‘So you struck the rock twice? The water still came from it, right? If it were me, I would have...”

Moses placed his hand over Joshua’s mouth.
“Well it wasn’t you. It was me.”

Joshua got up and paced around the room, not grasping Moses’ resignation of failure.
“It doesn’t make sense. If you can't lead, who can?”

“Be strong Joshua. Be strong and courageous”, Moses replied, as if he was saying good bye.

“Me? What? You want me to lead? I didn't ask for this. What about Caleb? The tribes would follow him”.

“Caleb’s a good man,” Moses answered. “Stubborn as a mule, but as true and faithful as any leader could ever want. He’ll watch your back. When you divide up the land make sure he gets Hebron. That’s his dream, and nothing could make me happier than to see him plough those fields.”

“Yes but you wont,” Joshua replied angrily, “so what’s the point believing? You wont see him plough those fields.”

“Joshua, I already have. I’ve seen it in my heart,” answered Moses.

Joshua placed buried his head in his hands and cried. The comforting hand of Moses gripped his shoulder.

“I know how much you hurt,” said Moses, “I remember you tore your clothes in anguish. I was there too.”

Moses paused to hold back his own tears.
“But it's not my decision,” he continued. “You will lead our people into Canaan. You must.”

Joshua stood bolt upright and angrily paced the floor.
“But God is with us, right? Surely you can lead and he’ll give us victory over all our enemies? I mean He’s God, He parted the Red Sea. I saw it with my own eyes. He held back Pharaoh’s army with a wall of darkness. He can do anything.”

“He wont do what we’re supposed to do ourselves,” Moses replied. “The problem has always been our hearts, and it will be the same for you.”

“Well that’s even worse then. How can I be the guardian of their souls?” Joshua asked. “Our people are always going to sin. If you’re not worthy to enter the promised land then how can anyone? It’s impossible. And it seems totally unjust to expect us to do the impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible,” said Moses. “One thing is certain, you’ll come up against problems you could have never imagined. You can’t prepare for that, but you have to deal with it. Be courageous. Have faith and never give in to doubt. Fight it with all your strength, like it’s the Devil himself.”

Joshua stood quietly mortified in Moses’s fatherly embrace.
“I will.”

“And never question God’s goodness. He knows much more than us. He always has the bigger picture.”

“But it is unjust,” said Joshua.

Moses pulled back and wrapped his hands around Joshua’s face. “Unjust? By whose standards? God is God. You are not”.

Joshua digested that brutal truth. Although he still felt like a young man in an old body, he was too old to play games with God.

But the game was just beginning.

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